Mariner 40 ketch, Sea Trek, we considered boats in many size ranges. Our finally decision was to buy the smallest boat we felt comfortable living on rather than the largest boat we could afford. For us, this was a good decision. It keeps our cost of cruising down so we can cruise longer. It's easier for one or both of us to handle and we have been able to explore many, many more places than we could with a larger boat and deeper draft. Each boat owner will have to decide for themselves. Any reasonably equipped vessel will have no problem transiting the ICW. There are a few pieces of equipment that are important to making a successful ICW cruise. For us, the depth sounder is number one. Everyone that has ever done the ICW has run aground at one time or another. Channels often shift or silt in, and the constantly shifting bottom conditions make it important to know how much water is under your keel. Another required item for us is the VHF radio. With the advent of cell phones today, some would say that aren't as important as they once were. But get into trouble in an area where there is no cell phone service, I know it's hard to believe, and the VHF will be your safety line. Also, it is important to have a VHF to communicate with other vessels.
best anchorages are. But conditions can change from one year to the next and sometimes from one month to the next. On our first trip south, we had only a depth sounder, VHF, handheld GPS, compass and a set of paper charts. It was one of the best cruises in memory. If you have been reading this blog, you have a good idea of how Beach House is now equipped. Our autopilot has become a favorite crewmember, and we often use our radar on almost a daily basis, especially during the summer. The radar is used more to track storm cells and do anchor watch when the weather turns bad in the middle of the night than for any other use. Equipping the boat is one of those very personal decisions. It's not necessary to have all of the latest toys to have a very enjoyable cruise on the ICW.
written a previous post on some ideas for a typical 50 day average. A couple of good resources for notices to mariners along the ICW are my own navigational notices on the Marinalife website and Cruisers Net by my good friend Claiborne Young. It's our practice to make notes on our charts and in our guides on what we might expect out of the ordinary.
our observations in a previous post. The recognized proper way to pass is to approach the vessel from astern, slow down to match their speed, pass slowly close in on one side or another, and resume speed only after fully passing. But this concept seems to be unknown to many. The two vessels should be in communication on the VHF as all of this takes place. And of course the vessel being passed should slow enough so that the vessel doing the passing can indeed slow down enough not to make a big wake.
Towboat US or Sea Tow will be the only option. These subscriptions can also save lots of money in the event of a mechanical breakdown and the need for a tow. These types of tows should never be performed by untrained boaters.
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be a fascinating adventure and we have never seen it the same way twice. The possibilities are endless and the ICW can offer a lifetime of cruising destinations. A good vessel, well-equipped, and a prudent crew will make for a lifetime of memories. The important points to remember are to stay safe and enjoy. If you have a favorite story about your ICW trip, share it with us.